Tech overhaul brings change for brokers

There's been a technology overhaul at ING Direct, but what will this mean for brokers? Its head of distribution discusses plans



An overhaul at ING Direct will mean plans to automate the back office and upgrade third party portals will happen more quickly, says its head of distribution.
ING has overhauled its entire infrastructure by transferring its systems into a private cloud – the first bank in Australia to do so.  
The 12-month project, called Zero Touch, aims to simplify the company’s production environment by providing new computing, network and storage infrastructure.
The company went from 400 servers down to 80 in a move which is being replicated in ING branches over the world.
Executive director of distribution Lisa Claes told Australian Broker that, much like re-enforcing the foundations of a house before building another storey, the company had to re-platform all the underpinning foundational systems before it could move forward with other innovations.
“By making our infrastructure way more efficient and stronger, what will follow is that our development capability – speed and quality – should be able to run and deliver more initiatives...It may not sound very sexy but it will allow us to do sexier things."

 ING can now give a larger slice of the budget pie to development activities rather than spending IT resources on housekeeping, Claes said.
For brokers, this will mean plans to automate the back office and upgrade third party portals will happen sooner rather than later.
“As we now don’t have to spend time and money updating our 800 servers, we’ll now be able to re-deploy those resources into automating the back office. We’ve got a competitive front end offering but we’ve been very keen to automate credit approval processing and update the processes that go on behind the scenes after an application has been lodged.
“That is something which is now very high on our shopping list and we’re going to start work on this year – a very good project,” Claes said.
ING is also looking at upgrading its third party portals, to give brokers greater and more intuitive self-service, she said.
Chief operating officer Simon Andrews said in the short term the project will have an immediate impact on the bank's operational capability and in the medium to long term its 1.5 million customers should see a benefit too.
“For customers, this translates into improved service standards and an increased capacity for the bank to deliver product and service enhancements,” he said.
“We see cloud technology as a real enabler. Completing the project has opened up space for us to innovate and create rather than simply operate and maintain the supporting infrastructure.”
And as Claes puts it: “It’s not something that customers should and do think about, but it’s vital housekeeping. It’s painful to do at the time, but a bit like maintaining a car, if you don’t do it you can have unpleasant unforeseen consequences, but if you plan in advance you can drive it faster down the highway.”


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